How to Start Personalizing the B2B eCommerce Experience
Today, 68% of B2B buyers prefer doing business online versus using a salesperson. When they do engage with a salesperson, they prefer a more solution-oriented, consultative experience. This may not be a shocking reality to most, but it is significantly disrupting B2B sales operations all over the world.
With B2B buyers now opting for self-service eCommerce, B2B sellers must deploy a new seamless and personalized cross-channel experience. So how are sellers supposed to meet these new demands from the market?
The Balance Between B2B Selling and eCommerce
Many B2B companies make the mistake of trying to mimic B2C methods, but most buyers are only calling for B2B with a dash of B2C. Not every B2B purchase is right for eCommerce. Businesses must opt for a multifaceted solution – one that adopts eCommerce and enhances a salesperson’s ability to provide an engaging consultative experience. There are two purchasing scenarios that highlight the need for a two-pronged approach: low consideration purchases and high consideration purchases.
Low-Consideration Purchases Require Self-Service - Low-consideration purchases are simple, low-risk, and often repetitive. For example, when reordering or purchasing low-priced items, buyers don’t need assistance from salespeople. Nearly 75% of B2B buyers say that buying from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales representative. In a scenario like this, a B2B eCommerce website makes the most sense; buyers can purchase without complexity and sellers can direct their focus to more important deals.
High-Consideration Purchases Require Intelligent Salespeople - High-consideration purchases are complex and expensive, involve negotiation, or require installation/servicing. A deal of this nature requires collaboration. Buyers expect sales reps to be knowledgeable about their business, recognize their challenges, and provide highly engaging support through the buying process. Meeting these expectations in today’s climate can be extremely difficult if your sales team is not equipped with proper technology to collect and organize buyers’ cross-channel data.
Providing a Personalized Experience in B2B
Both low consideration and high consideration purchasing need technology to help meet the current expectations of buyers. To help provide a personalized B2B experience, businesses should focus on following the three initiatives.
Upgrade your B2B eCommerce site
To create an engaging eCommerce site, businesses must personalize the experience so buyers can quickly find the products or content that are relevant to their real-time needs. Adding personalization technology to your eCommerce website is a sure-fire way to enable these experiences for your buyers.
In fact, companies using personalization technology, like 4-Tell’s Smart CommerceSM Platform, see on average:
- 5x increase time spent on site
- 5x increased product views
- 4x increased conversion rate
- 15% increase in sales
Just like consumers, buyers’ time is precious. And if businesses don’t respect their time by offering a personalized and simplified online experience, they risk losing that buyer to a competitor that does.
Integrate systems’ data for consistent cross-channel selling
Cross-channel buying creates a need for consistent and fluid experiences. Whether they’re shopping on mobile, tablet, or desktop, buyers want to pick-up where they left off – no matter the channel or device they browse from.
In order to accomplish this, B2B businesses need to invest in technology that can bring disparate data together from siloed systems like CRM, ERP, POS, CMS, PCM, and eCommerce platforms. Powered by a complete data set, experiences across every channel become consistent and connected.
Arm sales with machine-learning technology
Despite the best efforts of sales reps, creating the fluid and engaging experience buyers want requires more than just Excel spreadsheets– it calls for advanced machine-learning technology. Machine-learning technology can quickly comb through mountains of data, stitching together complete 360-degree profiles of each buyer.
Armed with comprehensive buyer profiles and predictive analytics, sales reps can identify critical content and product insights they can use to enhance communication with the buyer. Integrating disparate data systems is crucial to creating a successful multi-channel experience. Lastly, a personalized eCommerce site completes the new B2B experience by simplifying buying processes for low-consideration tasks. The longer businesses wait to implement these B2B initiatives, the more likely buyers will invest their loyalty with close competitors that do.